Review on the Road: The Ruby Slipper, New Orleans
Google "Breakfast" + "New Orleans" and it's pretty hard to miss the The Ruby Slipper. It's the top search result. It's on best of lists for everyone from hipsters to hip-replacement candidates. Basically, in a town filled with great places to eat, it's pretty clear this is a can't-miss destination if you're looking to start the day off right.
There are several locations to choose from but we opted to go to the Magazine Street one for no other reason than it was slightly closer to our hotel than the equally close other location nearby. We went on a Thursday at 10am and there was already a two-hour wait to get a table. Clearly it's a popular spot. Luckily in the good ol' US of A (and presumably in cities larger than the one I call home) there is an app that lets you get in virtual line at the restaurant so you can wait in a park with a coffee like an adult instead of on the street like the rest of the riff raff. God bless America.
At our appointed time—thanks to a prompt from said trusty app—we wandered over to the restaurant and checked in with the hostess. It's here that I should mention there was a cocktail waitress selling drinking to people waiting in line. At 10:35 on a Thursday morning. New Orleans doesn't frig around. I did not partake, but it sure did help whet my whistle for when we were actually seated inside.
We ended up being seated at the bar which is one of my favourite perches. You can learn a lot about a place based on the tidiness of its bar. It's also where you get a vibe for the kind of place you're in—good place to work? Decent crew of people? What's the clientele like? These are all things to can glean from the conversations you overhear between staff around the bar.
In this case, we were seated right beside the service bar and let me tell you. It was an experience. There were tears. There was laughter. There were the high emotions that come from working in a place that busy at 10:45 in the morning. It was a veritable rollercoaster of emotions that really only revealed to me that I'm really glad I don't have to serve tables any more. Oh and that people don't tip their servers and better in New Orleans than they do anywhere else. Shocker.
But on to the food.
I opted for the signature brunch cocktail—the Ruby Slipper (sparkling wine, OJ and pomegranate juice)—because when in New Orleans, one drinks with breakfast.
The menu is pretty vast but I was hankering for some eggs benny so I ordered the Eggs Blackstone which was eggs benny with applewood smoked bacon and grilled tomato on a biscuit.
Once we ordered, I sat back and took it all in. Bartenders made the drinks. Servers picked them up. People got stiffed on tips. They made garnishes with cartoonishly large olives. A steady stream of people filed in and out. In other words, I people watched and got a little buzzed on my giant vat of cheap sparkling wine and sugar water. In fact, I was so buzzed that when I remembered I needed to check into my flight for the next day I upgraded my seat to business class like only a slightly drunk white lady who brunches would do. #YOLO or something.
Anyway. The food came. I took my picture. And then something that has never happened to me before happened—the lone Mid-Western businessman sitting beside me at the bar asked if he could take a picture of my breakfast. Who am I to say no? So he took his picture and then promptly called his wife or whatever back home and then described my breakfast in great detail as I was simultaneously eating it... weird right? Like I said. The booze had kind of dulled everything which worked in his favour as I was just kind of confused and fuzzy feeling and in no real shape to object. So, to the middle manager/travelling salesman/pharma rep/whatever with a picture of my breakfast on your phone...You're welcome?
Food paparazzi aside, the meal itself was delicious. The bacon was great—real crisp and flavourful. As I mentioned in my last post, trust the south to cook damn good bacon. And biscuits. And really just any kind of food that is actually trying to kill you. Looking at you, hollandaise. I was a little off-put that it didn't come with a side, but by the time I got through this and my giant mimosa I had the food (and booze) sweats all the same.
Here's the thing. It was good, but it wasn't wait two hours on a weekday good. But at the end of the day, when you travel, sometimes it's the experiences that are more memorable than anything else. And this was certainly an experience for the folks back home.